United Cancels LAX To Singapore Route, Adds Second Daily SFO To Singapore Flight

United has added an impressive number of ultra longhaul flights in the past couple of years, including the following:

These are the three longest flights operated by any US airline, and all three of them are among the world’s 10 longest flights. While I usually love ultra longhaul flights, I can’t say that United’s 787s are where I’d like to spend that much time.

United’s strategy of ultra longhaul flying is interesting. Historically it’s tough to make money on these kinds of flights, though with smaller and more fuel efficient planes, it’s definitely more feasible than in the past. With fuel prices increasing, it will be interesting to see what happens with these types of routes over the coming years.

United has just announced adjustments to two of these ultra longhaul services.

United will discontinue flights between Los Angeles and Singapore

United will discontinue daily nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore as of October 27, 2018, which is the route’s one year anniversary. This is their longest route of all, and this move doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me. United is a distant third at LAX behind American and Delta, so presumably they don’t have as much market share there as they need to make the route work.

Furthermore, by early next year Singapore Airlines will also fly nonstop between Los Angeles and Singapore, so if the route isn’t working for United now, you can bet it won’t be working for them when a superior airline enters the market.

United will add a second daily flight between San Francisco and Singapore

This is the part of the announcement that surprises me. United flies daily between San Francisco and Singapore, and I figured the route was doing fairly well since SFO is such a big hub for them. However, Singapore Airlines also operates this route, so you have twice daily service in the market.

As of October 27, 2018, United will add a second daily nonstop flight between San Francisco and Singapore. This will complement the schedule of the existing flight, so United’s two flights will operate with the following schedules:

UA001 San Francisco to Singapore departing 10:40PM arriving 8:00AM (+2 days)
UA002 Singapore to San Francisco departing 10:00AM arriving 8:35AM

UA029 San Francisco to Singapore departing 10:55AM arriving 8:15PM (+1 day)
UA028 Singapore to San Francisco departing 10:20PM arriving 8:55PM

It’s amazing to think that there will be three daily nonstop flights between San Francisco and Singapore. Wow.

Bottom line

These United adjustments are fascinating. I was expecting the Los Angeles to Singapore route would be cut eventually, though I’m surprised to see United doubling service between San Francisco and Singapore, especially since Singapore Airlines also operates that route. I wonder if they’re hoping to drive Singapore Airlines out of the market (which seems unlikely), or if there’s really that much high yield demand.

What do you make of these United network changes?

Comments

  1. Superior airline except for on the ground, where SQ lounges (especially the dreadful no-light ‘main’ lounge in Changi T3) are a disaster, or the seats that are pretty to look at and wide but impossible to sleep in, or the lack of amenity kit or godforbid something goes wrong and all hell breaks lose. But yes. Superior food and more friendly FAs.

  2. Fewer people moving between LA and Singapore perhaps? Hasn’t Singapore decided to slash SIN-ICN-LAX?

  3. The SFO-SIN UA flights are almost always full in J and command high prices and plenty of corporate contracts. Don’t forget that Apple, FB, and Google have significant presences in Singapore. I’ve been on UA1 flights where half the J cabin was Apple employees and where there were 20+ Global Services.

  4. How long does LAX-PVG have left for United, as the competition is much higher on that route and if American, which has much more feed through LAX, can’t make it work profitably, how can UA be profitable, they don’t have feed on the Chinese side of the route?

  5. @Roberto- United has free in China. United has also been in China for over 50 years as it inherited Pan Am’s distribution network there. United is anchored in China and has a much better share / ability to sell to the local market than American does.

  6. @Roberto I would say the LAX PVG loads are lighter on American than the same time last year.

  7. That kind of seems quite useless. I understand that the LAX-SIN might not work, but why do a second flight to Singapore??? Like open up a newer route, I remember United did an SFO-HGH route and then canceled it, or like do an LAX-GRU route like LATAM, or SFO-GRU for that matter. Just why a Double flight? Very expensive just to operate one aircraft that far! I see in the next year SFO-HGH being resurrected or maybe an SFO-CAN route possibly.

  8. I knew this would happen when I started seeing one-way $450 economy flights for LAX-SIN on UA metal. Upgrade total price were $450 + $600 + 30k miles, which is too good of a deal to survive…

  9. Hard choice. Of course US airlines are inferior to any alternative, but the SQ BC seats are super uncomfortable. I guess even the old United seats are better. I could end up on United.

  10. How much of a prayer is there of getting saver business class on either the Singapore from LAX or United from SFO?

  11. I believe SQ got a good deal with UA. No competition on LAX for giving up SFO while UA will struggle to fill 2 daily SFO-SIN flights. SQ wins!

  12. @Jason
    Agreed. The airline is the best known in China, which is why it can make routes like CTU SFO work, which would never work with AA or DL if they tried CTU LAX or CTU SEA.

  13. I think SQ will not cut the ICN flights until they start the new nonstop flights. Ideally SQ possibly wants to start flying the LAX-SIN nonstop flight before Christmas, but that is subject to the delivery of the new A350-900ULRs. But they are just blocking out all the ICN flights because they did not want to rebook passengers during high season. I presume that SQ will have a final decision soon. They don’t want to lose out on the Christmas season, when traffic between Asia and US will be busy. I sort of look forward SQ starting the LAX nonstop flight. Plus they will need to readjust the Narita schedule if ICN flights are cancelled for good.

  14. This is a welcomed additon, especially the SIN-SFO (new) leg. When travelling with them in the past, I always hated having to get up early and immediately leave for the airport from my hotel after breakfast. Would welcome to have a day of productivity there, then catch an evening flight out back to the US.

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